What Does Muscle Memory and Neuroplasticity Have to do with Good Ergonomics

Apart from the fact these words are not common to most of you who work with computers, these two concepts are in fact very important in allowing our national consultants to help you become more comfortable in particular if you experience right shoulder/arm discomfort thru the day.
Muscle Memory refers to fact that your body can learn to do a particular action through repetition of that particular task.  For example you learn to use the mouse or hit a slice backhand by repeating the correct movement over and over again (correct meaning working with the expert eyes and feedback from a coach, physiotherapist and ergonomist).
Most of us forget but we all had to teach ourselves how to move the cursor on the computer monitor by moving the mouse most often in the right hand.  But what about those of you whom we assess on an ergonomic basis who complain of right shoulder and arm discomfort and symptoms (tingling & numbness down the arm). It seems in our practice the minute we commence a discussion about using the left hand for mousing and/or the numeric keys (as in a left handed keyboard such as the Goldtouch or the Kensington keyboards) our right handed clients get a panicked look on their faces.  “There is no way I can use my left hand, I am so right hand dominant”, “I do not have time to learn how to use my left hand”.
Here is the good news & this is based on Muscle Memory and something else called Neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of our brains to add new neural connections and release better chemicals in the brain such that we learn new things (including patterns of movement for the left hand)
All this change requires is about 2 days of practice., practice, practice using the mouse in the left hand or numeric keys; this results in the muscles and joints of the body memorizing the correct movements to use (Muscle Memory) and this also results in the brain literally adding new connections and chemistry with which to orchestrate this new skill.
So, next time you “righties” put up a fuss about switching to the left hand to relieve the stressors on the right shoulder/arm, just remember, you can build muscle memory for the left hand and your brain will accommodate this quite rapidly.

After all this is in the interest of your health, comfort and productivity. We “lefties” at Optimal Performance will help guide you.

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